It is commonly held that industrialized countries are undergoing a digital transformation, i.e. far reaching changes in their societies and economies that are driven by advances in digital technologies. Yet these countries also differ in terms of their political-economic and socio-cultural conditions. Does this mean that there are systematic differences in the policies that parties formulate to address those changes – and do we thus see different faces of a digital transformation?
I tackle this question in my recent article, published in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, based on a systematic comparison between Ireland and Germany. These countries differ markedly regarding the role that the IT-sector plays in their economies as well as regarding their privacy cultures. Despite these differences, however, I do not find persistent systematic differences between the two countries. Instead, there is a clear trend of overall convergence of parties’ policy stances in the time between 2007 and 2017. Parties in both countries, particularly in Germany, have shifted towards putting greater emphasis on aspects of productivity and efficiency. It thus seems that the adaptive pressures and the economic importance of digital technologies prevail over context factors that would seem particularly likely to shape political actors’ policy priorities.